The Baker-Polito Administration announced that the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) has awarded through its Priority Projects Program approximately $11.8 million in grant funding to 24 projects including the Belle Isle Marsh that will strengthen community preparedness for large storms, improve climate-ready infrastructure, and protect fish, wildlife, and river and wetland habitats. In December 2021, Governor Baker signed a $4 billion federal COVID-19 relief spending bill utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). $11.4 million of today’s grants are being awarded utilizing ARPA funds, with the remainder of the funding coming from DER’s Operational Budget.
“Ecological restoration is essential for building a climate-ready Commonwealth that will restore and enhance Massachusetts’ natural resources to address climate vulnerabilities while providing important access to recreational opportunities for residents,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our Administration continues to invest in this work and support Massachusetts communities and ecosystems that will bring environmental benefits for generations to come.”
“Through these projects, communities will be able to increase climate resilience, improve public safety, enhance habitat, and provide additional benefits to our residents, wildlife, and natural resources,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are grateful for the strong partnership between our Administration, municipalities, and other organizations to move these valuable restoration efforts forward.”
The Priority Projects Program is one of the vehicles by which DER pursues restoration projects that provide significant social, environmental, and economic benefits to the state and local communities and support projects throughout the Commonwealth that advance DER’s mission. Priority Projects underway include the restoration of tidal flow to degraded coastal habitats, removal of aging and unsafe dams, and restoration of freshwater wetlands in former cranberry farmlands.
“It is imperative that we continue to improve degraded habitats to benefit wildlife and enable communities across the Commonwealth to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “Providing funds for these projects is an example of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to support the restoration of our rivers and waterways in order to promote healthy ecosystems and climate preparedness.”
“We are excited to support this group of projects, which bring numerous benefits to both people and nature,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “The results of this funding will be enjoyed into the future as they enable residents and visitors alike to step into nature with new recreational opportunities, improved water quality and habitat for wildlife, and resilience to the impacts of climate change.”
“We are proud to support these projects and to continue to work with our dedicated partners to achieve our restoration goals,” said DER Director Beth Lambert. “We are excited to see this work continue to advance and look forward to the many benefits it will bring to Massachusetts’ people and environment.”
The following project was awarded grant funds through DER’s Priority Projects Program through ARPA funds:
Belle Isle Marsh Preservation, East Boston
Award: Friends of Belle Isle Marsh, Inc.; $50,000
• This award will support the Friends of Belle Isle Marsh for the implementation of their environmental preservation programs at Belle Isle Marsh Reservation in East Boston. Belle Isle Marsh is the largest remaining salt marsh in Boston Harbor and provides important wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and climate resilience benefits to the surrounding communities.
“As we work together to build a more resilient and climate-ready Commonwealth, I want to applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for working with us in the Legislature to combat climate change, improve water quality, enhance local habitats and meet critical environmental infrastructure needs,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (D-Westport). “Because of our enduring partnership, we have made incredible progress and this $12 million award announcement is just another strong example of how we can invest to protect our communities, promote healthier ecosystems, while confronting the impacts of climate change head on.”
“I am thrilled to see several critical ecological restoration projects on the Cape and Islands receive funding through the Department of Fish and Game’s Priority Projects Program,” said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “The Cape and Islands’ natural environment will benefit immensely from these grant monies which will be used to restore wetlands, grasslands, stream systems, salt marshes, and tidal areas in order to support habitat for animals and plants, increase climate resilience, and improve water quality.”